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International News

Toyota robot canít slam dunk but shoots a mean three-pointer


Filipinos plan more diggings where new human species found


WWF sounds alarm after 48 lbs. of plastic found in dead whale


Horses race in Nepal capital to keep devils away


From The Asian Reporter, V29, #08 (April 15, 2019), page 2.

Dalai Lama leaves hospital, says he feels almost normal

NEW DELHI (AP) ó The Dalai Lama said he felt "normal, almost normal" as he left the New Delhi hospital where he had been treated for a chest infection. The 83-year-old Tibetan spiritual leader was pale but spoke cheerfully as he spoke to The Associated Press after being discharged. He had been hospitalized after coming to the capital to consult with doctors. He is likely to return to the north Indian hill town of Dharmsala that has been his headquarters since he fled Tibet in 1959 following a failed uprising against Chinese rule. The Dalai Lama usually spends several months a year travelling the world to teach Buddhism and highlight the Tibetansí struggle for greater freedom in China. But he has cut down on travel in the past year as he has to take care of his health. China doesnít recognize the Tibetan government-in-exile and hasnít held any dialogue with the representatives of the Dalai Lama since 2010. Beijing accuses him of seeking to separate Tibet from China. The Dalai Lama denies being a separatist and says he merely advocates for substantial autonomy and protection of the regionís native Buddhist culture.

Facebook says it removed fake accounts in the Philippines

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) ó Facebook says it has removed 200 pages, groups, and accounts linked to Nic Gabunada, reportedly the former social-media manager of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, for misleading people. The social network says it took down the accounts for "coordinated inauthentic behavior," the term it uses to describe accounts that work together to mask who is behind them and what their purpose is. In the past, Facebook has removed accounts linked to Russia, Iran, and other countries for trying to wreak political havoc or influence elections in the U.S. and elsewhere. The accounts and posts in question posted about elections, alleged misconduct by political candidates, and local news. Facebook says they tried to hide their identity but were linked to a network organized by Gabunada.

Brunei invokes laws allowing stoning for gay sex, adultery

SINGAPORE (AP) ó New Islamic criminal laws that took effect in Brunei, punishing gay sex and adultery by stoning offenders to death, have triggered an outcry from countries, rights groups, and celebrities far beyond the tiny Southeast Asian nationís shores. The penalties were provided for under new sections of Bruneiís Shariah Penal Code. Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, who has reigned since 1967, instituted the code in 2014 to bolster the influence of Islam in the oil-rich monarchy of around 430,000 people, two-thirds of whom are Muslim. Even before 2014, homosexuality was already punishable in Brunei by a jail term of up to 10 years. The first stage of the Shariah Penal Code included fines or jail for offenses such as pregnancy out of wedlock or failing to pray on Fridays. But under the new laws ó which also apply to children and foreigners, even if they are not Muslim ó those found guilty of gay sex can be stoned to death or whipped. Adulterers risk death by stoning too, while thieves face amputation of a right hand on their first offense and a left foot on their second. Celebrities including George Clooney, Elton John, and Ellen DeGeneres have voiced opposition to the new laws, and have rallied a boycott of nine hotels in the U.S. and Europe with ties to Hassanal, who is still sultan. There has been no vocal opposition to the new penalties in Brunei, where the sultan rules as head of state with full executive authority. Public criticism of his policies is extremely rare in the country.

Court orders easing of decades-old abortion ban

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) ó In a major reversal, South Koreaís Constitutional Court ordered the easing of the countryís decades-old ban on most abortions, one of the strictest in the developed world. Abortions have been largely illegal in South Korea since 1953, though convictions for violating the restrictions are rare. Still, the illegality of abortions forces women to seek out unauthorized and often expensive procedures to end their pregnancies, creating a social stigma that makes them feel like criminals. The courtís nine-justice panel said parliament must revise legislation to ease the current regulations by the end of 2020. It said the current abortion law was incompatible with the constitution and would be repealed if parliament fails to come up with new legislation by then. The ruling is final and cannot be appealed, court officials said, but current regulations will remain in effect until they are replaced or repealed. An easing of the law could open up the door to more abortions for social and economic reasons. Current exceptions to the law only allow abortions when a woman is pregnant through rape or incest, when a pregnancy seriously jeopardizes her health, or when she or her male partner has certain diseases. A woman in South Korea can be punished with up to one year in prison for having an illegal abortion, and a doctor can get up to two years in prison for performing an unauthorized abortion. The verdict was a response to an appeal filed in February 2017 by an obstetrician charged with carrying out about 70 unauthorized abortions from 2013-2017 at the request or approval of pregnant women. Most other countries in the 36-member Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the so-called most developed countries, allow abortions for broad social and economic reasons. South Korea is one of only five OECD member states that donít allow such abortions, according to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family. The South Korean public has been sharply split over the abortion law. There have been heated panel discussions on TV and internet programs; activists, both for and against, have for months stood with placards near the court. After the ruling, womenís rights activists cheered. Some shook their placards and shouted: "Abolish the anti-abortion law!"

Japanís emperor and empress celebrate 60 years of marriage

TOKYO (AP) ó Japanís Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary just a few weeks before he abdicates his throne. The couple met at a 1957 tennis tournament remembered as a "love match." Akihito and Michiko Shoda married in 1959, making him Japanís first future emperor to wed a commoner and someone who was Catholic educated. Both are among many changes he brought to Japanís 1,500-year-old monarchy. The couple also broke with tradition in choosing to raise their own children and in speaking more often to the public. The celebration was their last in Akihitoís 30-year reign. The 85-year-old emperor is abdicating on April 30 and handing the Chrysanthemum throne to his elder son, Crown Prince Naruhito, the next day.

Philippines bans workersí deployment to Libya amid fighting

MANILA, The Philippines (AP) ó The Philippine labor secretary says the government has imposed a total ban on the deployment of Filipino workers to Libya because of fighting between rival militias for control of the North African nationís capital. Labor secretary Silvestre Bello III said the indefinite ban would affect new Libya-bound workers and even Filipinos who are scheduled to return there after work breaks. The deployment ban was imposed after the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila raised the threat level in Libyaís capital to 3 and urged Filipinos in Tripoli and outlying areas to consider leaving to avoid getting caught in the fighting. Bello says if the threat level is raised to 4, the government will have to implement a forced evacuation of Filipinos to ensure their safety.

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